Medical informatics and health care organizations.

M.D. computing : computers in medical practice

PubMedID: 1921663

Holden FM. Medical informatics and health care organizations. MD Comput. 1991;8(4):198, 200.
A dialogue between upper management and operational elements over an organization's informatics policies and procedures could take place in an environment in which both parties could succeed. Excellent patient care practices can exist in organizational settings where upper management is not concerned with the specifics of the medical care process. But as the medical care process itself becomes costly, complex, and part of the purview of upper management, solutions to ambiguous informatics policies and practices need to be found. As the discussion of cost determination suggests, a comprehensive "top-down" solution may not be feasible. Allowing patient care expertise to drive the design and implementation of clinical computing modules without unduly restrictive specifications from above is probably the best way to proceed. But if the organization needs to know the specifics of a treatment episode, then the informatics definitions specific to treatment episodes need to be unambiguous and consistently applied. As the discussion of Social Security numbers suggests, communication of information across various parts of the organization not only requires unambiguous data structure definitions, but also suggests that the communication process not be dependent on the content of the messages. Both ideas--consistent data structure definitions for essential data and open system communication architectures--are current in the medical informatician's vocabulary. The same ideas are relevant to the management and operation of large and diffuse health care enterprises. The lessons we are learning about informatics policy and practice controls in clinical computing need to be applied to the enterprise as a whole.